Friday, March 23, 2012

Mr Coffee

Randall Stephens

Americans' taste changes over time, like almost everything else, that is.

Witness the change in diet and the range of good eats available since the 1980s. The food and drink revolution of the 1980s and 1990s even introduced artisan cuisine to the Velveeta cheese belt. In the Midwest microbreweries began to crop up in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Now most Americans who live near civilization can shop for extra virgin olive oil, goat cheese, and cracked-wheat bread at there local supermarket or by a plate of Rare Ahi Tuna with Wasabi Vinaigrette, garnished with some unidentifiable greenery, at an area bistro.

Long ago, we drank Folgers, Maxwell House, and instant coffee. Now, coffee chains have familiarized Americans with the wonders of Mediterranean, Sumatran, and Kenyan varieties. The rage for the exotic even extends into the bizarre. Several years back the ultra-rare Kopi Luwak made a splash, or should I say, plop.

Before the 1970s most Americans brewed coffee at home with inferior peculators. Enter Samuel Glazer, a founder of the company that rolled out Mr. Coffee in 1972. Glazer passed away earlier in March at the age of 89.

Over at NPR Robert Siegel and Oliver Strand of the NYT discuss the change that the Mr. Coffee drip machine wrought:

STRAND: They realized that there was an appliance that they could make that would produce filter coffee that was much cleaner, much sweeter and, frankly, much tastier than percolator coffee.

SIEGEL: Because that's the way that coffee was brewed on an industrial scale, if you will, for big companies and hotels.

STRAND: Yeah, there were these large batch brewers that were basically enormous versions of what we started to use in our homes; these little countertop plug-in coffee drippers.

SIEGEL: And so, he wasn't the engineer himself but they figured out let's get somebody to make a miniature version of a huge coffee brewer.

We raise our cups of Cà phê sữa đá (iced Vietnamese coffee) to you, Mr. Glazer!


Dan Allosso said...

Funny how it looks so obvious in retrospect. You wonder how Bunn or the other commercial brewer giants can sleep at night, knowing they let that one get by. Maybe in 20 years we'll all be saying that about "Sal's home Kombucha machine." (because Kombucha is the beer of the 20-teens. You heard it first here!)

Randall said...

Hindsight is something/something